Before yesterday, I only knew the basics of how Habitat for Humanity worked: they build houses for people in need. I learned, however, that there's a long application and interview process to determine whether or not a familiy is willing to put in 500 hours of "sweat equaity" towards building their own home and whether they want to make the commitment to pay off a no-interest mortage. These houses are definitely not handouts-- the owners earn every nail that holds their new home together!
At about 3pm, several families showed up under the guise that they were visiting a site to see how it worked before they committed to the program. Several habitat big-wigs were there to speak, as well as the district council woman. What they didn't know was that this was really a ceremony announcing that they'd all been approved for homes, with the promise that they'd be living in them by this new year's eve. "Look around," said Habitat LA's CEO Erin Rank, "These are your new neighbors!" It was a phenomenal moment. What really struck my little group of gals is how not just one or two members, but ENTIRE families of 6, 7, or even 8 people, showed up to this event--a tribute to the value that this opportunity held for them. There wasn't a dry eye in the crowd.
Along with one of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition hosts, families raise the first tri-plex wall.
Pink Ladies Extreme
(Donning the pink toolbelts Adrienne got us all, from L-R
Rachel, Adrienne, Marki, Tami, Victoria, Wendi, me and Karen)
As the families raised the first wall together, I was so touched by the sight of a mother holding a baby in a carrier on her chest, pushing the first piece of her new life into place. I looked down at the bruise on my thumb (that I'd gotten that day from a hammer) with a sense of pride that I hadn't felt in a long time, knowing that it wouldn't be the last I'd receive from working with Habitat. In a sense, I'd found myself a new home, too.
To find out how you can be a part of the Habitat for Humanity chapter in your area, visit their website: http://www.habitat.org/